Cooley On Cars
On the road: The 2015 Ford F-150Brian Cooley drives the most lightweight, smallest-engined F-150 to see if it's the real deal.
[MUSIC] Ford has dramatically recast the F-150. It may be the biggest gamble you see a major auto maker take in your lifetime. What are they thinking? And why? Let's dig into it, as we drive the all new 2015. The F150, and check the deck. [NOISE] The two big stories going on in this vehicle that come under the category of lightness. It's an aluminum truck. By that they mean the outer shell, the body, the cab, the box. Then, there's the frame, made of high strength steel. This is a steel that they get from their supplier that is particularly strong for weight. That means it can be pressed very thin in places, but it's not so much strength through bulk. Now, Ford's likely going to have a lot of company in the aluminum shed soon. In fact, word is the next Jeep Wrangler might make the switch as well. According to Ducker Worldwide consultancy, by 2015 the average vehicle in the US will have 394 pounds of aluminum. Ten years later that will get to almost 550 pounds. What used to be a rarity in big Jags and Audis is now looking like a fact of automotive life. They can do more work, more efficiently. This is a game changer for full-sized pickups. The bottom line is they shaved some 700 pounds of this vehicle off from the last generation. They've gone so far as to even redo the logo on the fender to express lightness, by hollowing out the F. Now adorning that body, are some interesting details on the outside. First of all, they've got some optional LED headlights for the first time. LED tail lights are also part of blindspot technology because the radar sensor. Is built in to that red lens. Take a look at how they sculpted out the door here. They say they brought down the belt line a little bit. So, you can get that truck pose even when the window's up. And then, they really scoop it down here. To give you more visibility down around the corners. Now, of course, I'm obsessed with the technology under the hood. And this is the story there. The 2.7 liter. Little itty bitty, sort of, ecoboost V6, that's a really small engine for a full size pick up. What they're doing here is applying the turbo charged direct injection combo, they call it ecoboost. The numbers are pretty impressive. 325 horsepower, 375 pound feet of torque. Turbo engines tend to be torquey. Now the MPG needs to be pretty good to make the 2.7 engine worth having in the line. It does 19 city, 26 highway in four by two. That's better than a similarly laid out Ram, Tundra, or Silverado powered by gas. Now the towing capacity when you have this engine is a little bit reduced. This is the lower end of their range at 8,500 pounds. Now, if you think a 2.7 motor is too modern for your full size truck, hang on. Park assist will be a Ford exclusive in this truck. Adaptive cruise is also class exclusive. There's forward collision warning, brake assist available. Blindspot, cross traffic, and lane keep assist also spoken here. Six speed automatic is your only choice across the whole range. And of course, rear wheel drive base, or you can buck up to all wheel drive. Let's call that correctly, four wheel drive. Now some more tech and engineering highlights are around the back end of the F150. First of all, look at this piece of glass here on the rear, it's all one piece. And they just cut out the glass and reset it against the gasket. And they motorize it this way. It's not just slick looking, it also allows your heating coils to be more continuous across the piece and do a better job clearing your view. Now coming around the rear, nothing too unusual about a rear camera on a truck. But, this one's also hooked up to what they call a trailer hitch assistant. Gives you a special view on the main LCD in the cabin. Lines up a dotted line right to where you gotta go to hit the hitch. [NOISE] Two hits on the bump right here on the key fob and you can do this little trick. Brings down the tailgate with a nice soft release on a hydraulic damper. Now inside the F-150 My Ford Touch greets us. I'm not go into that. We've seen it on many Ford vehicles. It basically carries over here, but notice what is not touch screen. Lots of clusters of related controls here that are big and tangible. Here are the knobs and the buttons for media. Below that, the very large knobs and buttons for climate. Which Ford says they did intentionally after a lot of research where folks said. Sometimes functions get scattered all over the cabin, and I hate that. Similarly, your light controls are all down here in a pod, a well next to your left knee. What you won't find here on the dash is a bunch of replication of what's on the center screen. They found that a lot of their F-150 buyers. Said why do I need it in two places that are 12 inches apart? So, over here, you've got a physical tach and speedo. And then, you've got a bunch of virtual gauges for things like engine oil, pressure and temperature and fuel level. And then, below that is a big region that I would typically use for what they call my view. You can click down through your favorite seven displays. Chosen from dozens. As I mentioned, all F-150s have a standard six speed automatic. There's not variation there on those vehicles. It's a pretty straightforward vertical gate that comes down into manual shift mode which is handled by a rocker here on the side. No paddles, and obviously a two and a one position. Ignition. Rear view camera hops up and looks pretty good, pretty sharp and available on these vehicles as a surround view, as well, using front, left, right and rear cams. Now the cabin is two inches wider. And they took that space and, as opposed to giving it to you here, they gave it to you here. They put two more inches in the center console. That leaves you with a pretty big box, that you can put almost anything in. The whole. My laptop, a whole bunch of laptops. And Ford says they did something to control glare in this vehicle. They went through and they said, all right, what do you want to put in here designers, in terms of shiny stuff? Then they ran that through some computer modeling. Probably some light ray tracing to say what's gonna glare the driver. And changed it. We tediously go through every surface and change the shape of it, so you don't get those big spots of glare that are annoying as you drive. Now it may seem crazy to be autocrossing a truck [LAUGH] with a lighter platform. Nothing better than that for a car that handles well, as well as is efficient. If you haven't driven a full sized F150 lately. You're thinking it still drives like a truck. Well, no, it doesn't actually. It drives like a large car. Now, I've got the two seven here. As you know, and I'm doing manual shifting in this case, but the power is really good and responsive. That's the thing you might not expect in a car like this. It's fairly nimble. And the engine is right there where I want it, which is what I really wanted to find out. [NOISE] Now, I'm out here on a nice, kind of a simple two lane country road. Let's open her up and see how this 2.7 V6 does. [NOISE] This is a nice delivery of power. Driving this thing around right now, as just an everyday vehicle. This is a very substantial engine. It's got a nice note to it too, do you hear that? Kind of gets down there and snarls. More cars driven CNET style, standing by now at CNETOnCars.com click on the road. [NOISE]